Sexual violence is any sexual act a person did not consent to or is forced into against their will. This includes rape, sexual assault and other sexual offences. You do not have to report to the police if you do not wish to, your decision to report is your own to make and should not affect access to support services and medical help.
If you have just been sexually assaulted, remember you are not alone or at all at fault for what has happened. It may be instinctive to wash or change your clothes, however if you wish to preserve evidence then resist the urge to shower or bathe so that a full Forensic Medical Examination (FME) can take place.
Some simple next steps are listed below along with specialist support services who can help:
- You may be in shock, stay warm and find somewhere you feel safe
- Consider telling someone you trust about what happened
- If you wish to report immediately, do not shower or change clothes and avoid eating or drinking and brushing your teeth- evidence and forensic examinations will need to be collected from you
- You have the option to attend a SARC (Sexual Assault Referral Centre), hospital or see your GP. If you are unsure whether contraception was used by the ass you may need to take a course of PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis for HIV) as a precautionary measure, get tested for STIs and treat a potential future unwanted pregnancy
- Call 999 if you require urgent medical attention
You may want to contact a Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC). SARCs provide support in a confidential and safe environment with some offering counselling services. You may also be able to undergo forensic examinations and the collection of evidence if you wish to report to police, this can often be held on file for if you want to report to police further down the line. These examinations are carried out by specially trained doctors and nurses in a private room and you are entitled to have someone with you. Find your nearest SARC here: https://www.nhs.uk/service-search/other-services/Rape-and-sexual-assault-referral-centres/LocationSearch/364
If you are under the age of 18 and being abused, you can contact the children’s social care team at your local council or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. You can also contact Childline 24/7 on 0800 1111, calls are free and confidential. Childline can also be contacted online. For therapeutic support you can contact The Lighthouse – email@example.com or Tel: 020 3049 0010, available Mon-Sat 10am-8pm and Sun 10am-1pm.
Rape Crisis offer a national helpline operated by Rape Crisis South London on 0808 802 9999 – open 12-2:30pm and 7-9:30pm every day offering emotional support and information. They also offer an online chat service, the hours of this differ each day but information can be found on their website https://rapecrisis.org.uk/
Survivors UK offer help for men aged 13-18+ who’ve experienced sexual abuse. You can chat to specialist support via text (020 3322 1860) or WhatsApp (074 9181 6064) as well as via their online chat service. Available Mon-Fri 12-8pm, visit https://www.survivorsuk.org/ for more information.
The Survivors Trust offer information, advice and emotional support via their helpline (08088 010 818) Mon-Thur 10am-6pm and Fri 10am-2pm. https://www.thesurvivorstrust.org/
Switchboard offers support services to all who identify as LGBT+ by phone, email and instant messaging. All volunteers identify as either lesbian, gay, bisexual or trans. The phone line is open 10am-10pm daily (0300 330 0630) you can email firstname.lastname@example.org and access instant messaging services via their website https://switchboard.lgbt/
Women and Girls’ Network. Support women and girls and are open Mon-Fri 10am-4pm and Wednesday evenings from 6pm-9pm – 0808 801 0770. https://www.wgn.org.uk/
Victim Support offer a 24/7 helpline free of charge to anyone affected by sexual abuse– 0808 168 9111 https://www.victimsupport.org.uk/
Against Rape is run by Women Against Rape and Black Women’s Rape Action Project they offer self-help guidance, support and legal information. They operate Mon-Fri 1:30pm-4pm (020 7482 2496) http://againstrape.net/
Galop supports LGBTQ+ people affected by sexual violence. They offer an online chat service, email referrals and have a national helpline open Mon-Fri 10am-5pm – 0800 999 5428 http://www.galop.org.uk/
Respond supports children and adults with learning disabilities and autism who have experienced abuse. They offer psychotherapy, advocacy and support. Tel: 020 7383 0700 Email: email@example.com or download a referral form on their website https://respond.org.uk/
Supportline offer emotional support and information to people of all ages who have been affected by sexual violence. They can be contacted by phone (01708 765200) and email (firstname.lastname@example.org) https://www.supportline.org.uk/
National Association for People Abused in Childhood (NAPAC) provides support for adults who have suffered abuse in childhood. They operate a helpline Mon-Thurs 10am-9pm and Fri 10am-6pm. They can also be emailed via email@example.com https://napac.org.uk/
Rights of Women offer legal advice and information to women who have experienced abuse. Visit their website for helpline hours, specific telephone numbers and more https://rightsofwomen.org.uk/
As many of the survivors we help are based in London, below are services available London wide:
London Survivors Gateway provides support for anyone aged 13+ regardless of gender, sexuality, disability, language, ethnicity or immigration status. The Survivors Gateway is a partnership between the four London Rape Crisis Centres, Galop, SurvivorsUK and the Havens and is run by the Women and Girls Network. For help you can complete an online form, available on their website: survivorsgateway.london or call for free on 0808 801 0860 https://survivorsgateway.london/
The Havens help those who have been sexually abused within the last 12 months and have SARCs in South, East and West London. They can be contacted via phone on 020 3299 6900 24/7 if it’s urgent and you will be seen within 90 minutes of making the referral. For non-urgent calls phone 020 3299 1599 Mon-Fri 9am-5pm. Here you can receive FME (forensic medical examination), counselling, tests and treatments. https://www.thehavens.org.uk/
For further information for help after sexual assault visit: https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/sexual-health/help-after-rape-and-sexual-assault/